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More pork on your fork

One of my favourite scenes in the TV show, The Simpsons, is when Lisa is telling her dad Homer that she is no longer going to eat meat.

“What about bacon?” asks Homer.

“No,” replies Lisa.

“Ham?”

“No.”

“Pork chops?”

“Dad, those all come from the same animal.”

“Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.”

It might have been a great punchline on TV, but in reality Homer was pretty spot on. The varied cuts of pork and the vast ways to cook them has seen pork become very popular with Australians. But it hasn’t always been this way. Statistics show that 50 years ago it was beef and lamb that dominated the dinner plate; pork, and chicken for that matter, were barely a blip on the radar.

One of the key reasons why this has changed is also the same reason why we are drinking table wine instead of fortifieds, and that is immigration. Our once predominant English-inspired dinner of meat and three veg has thankfully been complemented by a succulent array of delicious dishes. Think spaghetti Bolognese, pasta carbonara, chorizo paella, char siu – all of which, incidentally, feature pork; and that is not even thinking about breakfast (bacon and eggs) or, for that matter, lunch; ham and salad sandwich, anyone?

Kitchen tradition

Peter Haydon, marketing manager for Australian Pork, says tradition has played a huge role in shaping our food preferences and hindered his job in promoting pork.

“People grow up to cook the meals their parents cooked,” he says “That was steak and veg, lamb chops, roast beef.”

Decades ago Australian Pork had great success with the ‘get some pork on your fork’ campaign – many of you reading this will still have that phrase indelibly inked on your memory, and while that brought attention to the ‘other white meat’, it only did some of the job.

“The next challenge was teaching them how to cook it,” says Peter. For the past decade, Australian Pork have marketed PorkStars – a collection of well-known chefs such as Manu Feildel, Giovanni Pilu, Alessandro Pavoni, Dan Hong, Chui Lee Luk – all of whom have shown Australians how to cook pork via events and recipes.

Manu explains that pork played a huge role in his upbringing in France, learning different cuts and the many ways to prepare them. It is this knowledge that he hopes to pass on through his recipes.

 “Food has always played a big part in our lives, my dad was a chef, so was his dad,” says Manu. “One of my uncles is a ‘charcutier’, so he’s an expert with pork and making pork products, such as salamis, pâtès, rillettes, and his own specialities, so pork has always been part of my diet.

“I believe that pork is more versatile than any other animal,” states Manu. “You can eat everything from ‘nose to tail’. Roasts, stews, pan fried, deep fried, confit. Charcuterie, and things you not think about, like intestine for sausage skin, blood for black pudding, head for terrines, trotters, tail, ears, and more.

“Creating recipes with pork is endless and it is a great match with other ingredients. It pairs beautifully with fruits such as apple, prunes, apricots, so as a chef, you can let your imagination run wild.”

The science of eating

Manu is also brand ambassador for Murray Valley Pork, part of the Rivalea group and Australia’s largest pork producer. They sell their extensive range of pork products exclusively through butchers and see the affable chef as a great way to promote their brand and also to continue to educate Australians on how to cook pork.

“Manu’s reputation as an acclaimed chef has been instrumental in growing awareness of the brand,” says Sean Barrett, marketing manager with Murray Valley Pork. “We work together to communicate the same message: the best quality taste and experience when it comes to pork.”

To this end, over the past 15 years Murray Valley Pork have invested heavily in addressing many concerns of consumers, from animal welfare to issues such as dryness, colour and pork taint, to create a better quality product.

“There’s a cultural misconception that pork needs to be served well done, however more consumers are understanding this is not the case,” says Sean, who explains that they use a number of techniques including moisture infusion to ensure their pork doesn’t dry out from cooking.

“It is easy to cook, which means everyone can produce a great result This guarantee of a soft, tender and delicious meal every time significantly increases consumer confidence in cooking pork.”

Well-fed welfare

Dr Rebecca Morrison, animal welfare programs manager at Rivalea, details how the company has also set the benchmark in providing the best care of their stock.

“Rivalea commits to ‘care for every pig, every day’,” she says. “For instance, instead of pregnant sow stalls, our pregnant sows are now housed in social groups. This ensures that the sow is able to move freely within group housing and is able to perform natural social behaviours. More than half of our pigs are reared in straw-bedded housing systems.

“Other programs include loose farrowing systems, group weaning of sows and environmental enrichment for animals. This humane treatment ensures the end product is of the highest quality.”

It is these points that Manu believes will see pork continue to grow in the market and is the reason why he chose to work with the brand.

“Murray Valley Pork produces the highest quality of meat,” he says. “They do this ethically and responsibly. And I love the consistency, sweetness and tenderness across all of their cuts.”

Check out Manu's delicious pork recipes with our wine matching suggestions
Pork, peas and asparagus risotto

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Christmas food and wine matching guide
Planning your Christmas Day feast shouldn’t be a chore, so to make it a breeze we’ve put together this easy to follow Christmas food and wine matching guide. Matching wine and food is as much about personal taste as anything else, and you may have your own family traditions, however some tried and tested pairings can be a good way to ensure your Christmas Day is one to remember. Read below for our tips and start planning your most delicious Christmas yet! Poultry Turkey If you were enjoying it entirely on its own, roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, rosé or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine. When turkey is served with a number of different accompaniments it can be a little complex to match wines to. With full-flavoured, fruity, spicy stuffing, tart cranberry sauce and an array of vegetables there are a lot of different flavours to take in, so choose something full and fruity that can stand up to so many flavours. Turkey is medium weight so any white wine needs to have the body to match and this is why Chardonnay , Viognier and Pinot Gris are a great – all three are fuller-bodied dry whites with richer flavours. Turkey is also lower in fat (hence why it needs basting), so it needs a wine with bright fruit and low level of tannin. Smooth, fresh and juicy wines like Grenache, Shiraz Viognier and Pinot Noir make great partners or if you’re in the mood for bubbles try a Sparkling red! Chicken Oaked Chardonnay is a blissful match with a simple roast chicken and also a good choice if the chicken is seasoned with tarragon or served with a creamy sauce. If you have a slightly spicy stuffing or one with fruit like apricots in it, a rich white wine like Viognier is a good choice. As for reds, Pinot Noir is a good choice for chicken served with its own juices or with truffles, and the generous sweetness of a Grenache is perfect if the chicken is accompanied with a traditional meaty gravy. Goose If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already decided to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous with your choice of drink too. Goose is more strongly flavoured than turkey and is more like game but quite a bit fattier which means it’s essential to look for a wine that has a fair level of acidity. Pinot Noir offers a fantastic pairing, but select one with some sweet, silky fruit. Baked glazed ham Baked glazed ham has three things to contend with – the saltiness, the spice of the glaze, and the fat content. A sweet glaze needs a ripe and fruity wine with juicy fruit flavours to offset the saltiness of the ham.   Riesling with its lime cordial flavours, Rose´ with raspberry nuances or the lemon curd flavours of Semillon all work well (think of the classic ham and pineapple combination – salty and sweet). If you prefer reds choose wines with a lot of fruit and not too much tannin. Ripe reds like Merlot and Shiraz are plump and rich with red and black fruits that compliment the spice of the glaze and offset the salt. Seafood Citrus fruits are a natural accompaniment to seafood – the acidity offsets the richness of seafood and the sweetness compliments their delicate flavours. White wines such as Riesling , Semillon and Vermentino are all perfect matches because of their citrus flavours, mouth-watering and energetic acidity. Fresh prawns have a delicate flavour so the wine should simply act like a squeeze of lemon hence Semillon with its fine, piercing acidity and lemon flavour, is the perfect accompaniment. Young, crisp Vermentino goes well with so many fish dishes, as well as oysters, raw shellfish and cold, seafood antipasti. Dry Rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley have a distinctive limey twist that makes them a particularly good match for spicy seafood dishes. Or why not serve an entrée of smoked salmon with Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc for a match made in heaven. Dessert Christmas pudding There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding, especially if you've flamed it with brandy or served it with a brandy sauce, but if you fancy a small glass of something sweet and delicious, a dessert wine with a touch of orange or apricot such as late harvest or botrytis-affected wine make the perfect match. Mince pies Mince pies are very much like Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like Tokay, sweet Sherry or Madeira. Trifle For a trifle with jelly, custard and cream, a sweeter style, spritzy wine perfect. If it is a classic Sherry trifle, depending on how much is already added to it, sherry is obviously an option.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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